August 02, 2020
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Colour Thread

With her attempt at a grap­hic novel in pictures Dayanita Singh has found yet ano­ther way to break rules.

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Colour Thread
House Of Love
By Dayanita Singh
Radius Books/ Peabody Museum Press | Pages: 198 | $45 (Rs 2250 approx)

Photographer Dayanita Singh has for long been on the experimental forefront of a profession that many still challenge as art. With her attempt at a grap­hic novel in pictures she has found yet ano­ther way to break rules. Where neither words nor drawings are used for the literal expression of ideas, the photo is itself a form of narration, its content a symbolic suggestion of themes.

The descriptive terrain of word and tho­ught is much harder to achieve in pictures. Dayanita uses light—and darkness—to render her subject into a poetic refrain. The ambiguity of the literary experience is caught by Milton’s ‘darkness visible’, referenced by Aveek Sen in his accompanying essay. Among the collection of nine photo stories is Portrait of a Marriage, a comic, sad, disjointed rendering that uses symbolic pictorial references of a wedding—band, photographer, lights etc.

All through, the questioning nature of Dayanita’s career as photogra­phic journalist, artist, now graphic novelist—reco­unts photography’s multiple mut­a­tions: as repetitive passport picture, as misrepresented photographer in lurid self-portrait, and as infinite smudgings of colour and reproduction techniques. The interpretive nature of the picture reading calls for great involvement from the viewer; the private side of your own experience must be allowed to mingle with the camera image for the story to make sense. It is often hard to tell if Dayanita is dissecting her profession or laughing at herself or the subject, or in fact, at the viewer. The result is unlike anything else in book form.

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